Tag Archives: App Development

Jetboard Joust Devlog #1 – Overall Art Style

Looking back at my (frankly rather awful) ZX Spectrum title ‘Skateboard Joust‘ reminded me that there was always something pretty decent in the core gameplay concept of using your flying skateboard as a weapon when mid-jump.

As I need something else to work on whilst development on ‘Attack of Giant Jumping Man‘ slows down (hopefully temporarily) I thought about revisiting ‘Skateboard Joust‘ – almost as a penance for my sins in bringing such a dreadful game into the world into the first place! Maybe I can make a half-decent sequel and bring my gaming karma into alignment somehow?

I think I could get this mechanic to work as a simple two-button ‘endless scroller’ which might be nice for mobile and possibly even PC so I’ve been working on some visuals for the game with a view to making a prototype at least.

I’ve been going for a retro look in keeping with the game’s heritage, but rather than going for a full-on Spectrum emulation I’ve decided to keep to simple, restricted Gameboy-ish colour palette which I may change as the game progresses. The result is somewhere between Gameboy and Spectrum.

Game art is not my strongest suit and always takes me ages. I’d much rather be working with @PVBroadz but it this instance I need something I can crank out on my own. Pretty pleased with the result so far though – feel free to tell me what you think.

Dev Time: 2.5 days.

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Have I Got Any Better At Pixel Art In The Last 30 yrs?


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Test Animation For The Main Character


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Retro Revenge – Click For A Closer Look
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Enter The Junkyard

Yeah, it’s been quiet around here lately. Ooh look – there’s some tumbleweed.

Funny old game this #indiedev business. The bottom’s (finally) falling out of the mobile Java market and, let’s face it, it’s practically impossible to make any worthwhile cash from the AppStore or Google Play due to the woeful lack of curation and avalanche of sub-prime content therein. It’s all about the marketing these days. Fine if you have the budget or are a marketeer. I’m not – I just want to make cool games.

So myself and @PVBroadz have changed tack a little and have formed Joystick Junkyard. We’re not ditching mobile but are developing quirky, high-quality ‘future retro’ titles with a focus on more traditional gaming platforms such as PCs and consoles as much as phones and tablets. We’ve just completed a playable alpha-demo of our first title – ‘Attack Of Giant Jumping Man‘.

Check out the Joystick Junkyard blog here – or follow us on Twitter here.


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Tomorrow’s Retro Games Today

Why Being An iOS Developer Makes Me Feel Like Lance Armstrong

Is it because working at the cutting edge of a fast-changing new technology is a non-stop thrill ride? Like the nail-biting descent off the Col De Tourmalet, you never know quite what’s round the next corner. Just grit your teeth, hang on, and try and enjoy the ride?

Er, nope.

Then is it because you have to commit and be in there for the long haul? Plan ahead, cope with the many ups and downs, don’t let the smaller setbacks knock you off your game. Stay focussed and know that if you’ve put the groundwork in and prepared well and can hang in there your determination and persistence will win out?

Wrong again.

It’s because Lance Armstrong was a cheat.

And the excuse that he gave for cheating was pretty much that everyone else was cheating. Taking performance-enhancing drugs, though he knew it was wrong, was simply his way of being able to compete on a level playing-field – a necessary evil. The system was flawed and he was just trying to make the best of it.

Apple’s iOS AppStore is similarly flawed. It’s pretty much impossible for a small, independent developer with no marketing budget to speak of to cut through the noise – whatever the quality of their work. And as so many are resorting to the ‘performance enhancing drugs’ of app title/keyword manipulation, fake reviews, bought reviews/downloads and the like, it puts a huge amount of pressure on others to do the same just to level the playing field. The result is a dysfunctional, ugly mess that works neither for the developer nor the consumer. One huge, cancerous, cannibalistic peleton with ‘Flappy Bird’ and a few others at the head and everyone else desperately scrapping amongst themselves to get in their slipstream. Eventually it’ll disappear up its own arse like those cartoons of a snake eating its own tail.

So far I’ve drawn the line at buying reviews or downloads – when things sink to that level you may as well be spamming Viagra for a living. I have changed the title of ‘Floppy Frog‘ though. It’s now ‘Toss The Floppy Frog And Bounce Around The Spikey Lilly Pads‘. Ridiculous, I know. And I may have a ‘Flappy Bird‘ clone launching soon (just because I had it hanging around of course). If I was a pro athlete they’d probably have banned me already.

Give us a break, Apple. The drugs don’t work.


Lance Armstrong – The Bastards Must Have Spiked My Champagne!


Floppy Frog – Now Officially A Tosser

Creating App Promo/Demo Videos With Adobe Premiere

One of the things I’ve had to do with Floppy Frog is create a promo video for uploading to YouTube. I’ve made many promo videos for my JavaME apps and games but these were very simple and I’ve never had to do them in a YouTube-friendly format.

I used to use iMovie for promo videos until Apple changed it from a very simple, flexible and useable tool into the pile of arcane, prescriptive and utterly useless garbage that it is now. For the last few years I’ve been using Apple’s Quicktime 7 pro which, ironically, was much more suited to task than the ‘new and improved (read ‘ruined’) iMovie.

But, Quicktime 7 Pro was not going to cut it (pun intended) for this task so I decided to try Adobe Premiere. Overall I found it a good application for the task in hand though getting the settings right was somewhat time consuming, I’ll therefore detail the process here.


1. Capturing The Video

I thought initially that I’d capture video from the iOS Simulator. Bad idea. It runs much too slowly. Next attempt was to run Floppy Frog on the iPad and capture using Reflector as an Airplay Receiver. Again, bad idea. Frame rate was OK but quality wasn’t up to scratch.

Third attempt was to run the Android version of Floppy Frog using the GenyMotion emulator and capture using the excellent Snapz Pro. Success! GenyMotion runs Floppy Frog just as fast as it would on device and Snapz Pro is a highly configurable and useable screen capture tool. It even captured the audio without a hitch. Had to purchase the full version of GenyMotion to get rid of the ‘free for personal use’ message but I don’t begrudge them that as it’s a fantastic piece of software at a reasonable price.

GenyMotion also has the benefit of being able to configure device display height/width so you can set up a virtual device that’s ideal for the video format you want to capture. In this case my video will run on YouTube at HD 1280*720. Floppy Frog is a portrait game so I wanted a device size that wouldn’t look too ‘squished’ within the HD landscape frame, therefore I set up a virtual device of 600*720 and captured at this size at 30fps which is the frame rate at which the game runs.


2. Import The Video Into Premiere

You’d expect this bit to be easy, and it is easy to simply import the captured video into Premiere. Where I ran into difficulties was that Premiere organises all video into a ‘sequence’ and setting up a ‘sequence’ that matched my video capture settings seemed impossible. All I could do was choose from a series of preset sequences and changing the preset sequence settings was not allowed for some reason. The key issue was that none of the preset sequences ran at 30fps, only 29.97 fps and when Premiere attempted to match my 30fps captured video to the 29.97 sequence settings I was getting horrible interlacing effects.

The solution was to start the Premiere project with any old sequence settings, import the captured video, then select the captured video and choose ‘New Sequence From Clip’. This creates a new sequence matching the captured video settings exactly. Only issue was my video was captured at 600*720 and I wanted a video running at 1280*720! Solution: capture a few seconds of random 1280*720 30fps video using Snapz Pro, import into Premiere, then create the sequence from this. The 600*720 video can now be dragged into this new sequence no problem and the 1280*720 capture can be deleted from the project.

Next issue (which most people probably won’t run into) is that my sound hardware runs at a 48khz sample rate whereas my video was captured at a 48khz sample rate. For some reason Premiere seems pretty flaky about converting between the two (whatever the project Audio settings) so I had to make sure my captured video was saved with the audio running at a 48khz sample rate.

3. Export The Video For YouTube

Once the video is comped together in Premiere it has to be exported at high-quality for uploaded to YouTube. I got and tweaked ‘export media’ settings from a YouTube tutorial and they might be slightly overkill quality-wise but I’ve added screenshots on the right…

4. Sit Back And Watch The Traffic Roll In

Or maybe not. But here’s the finished product anyway…

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Adobe Premiere YouTube Video Export Media Settings.

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Adobe Premiere YouTube Audio Export Media Settings.